Monday, 14 August 2006

Wonder of wonders. Or never say never. Despite my prejudices against church choral music (and most choral music in general) I enjoyed the Officium Defunctorum of Tomás Luis de Victoria when I heard it last month with one of my sisters in Chichester cathedral. Harry Christophers and The Sixteen were broadcast doing the same work at the Ludlow Festival, so I captured it on CD. Glorious music! Fancy 16 unaccompanied voices singing a requiem mass of 1605 being fascinating music. Never say never. I especially enjoy the passages in plainsong.

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Not often I listen to a major piece of music twice in a day with great enjoyment. But I really loved my two listenings of Leila Josefowicz in the first violin concerto of Shostakovich (with Birmingham SO, Sakari Oramo, January 2006). Outside the Russians such as Repin and Vengerov, too many Western violinists fail to plumb the heights and depths of this marvellous music, and I was disappointed in Hilary Hahn's failure to make of the Passacaglia anything other than a mournful slow movement. Josefowicz plays with passion and intelligence. This has become one of my (rare) three star recordings. I'll have to take more notice of Josefowicz in future; she is obviously a babe-violinist plus.

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Listened with great pleasure to Nathan Milstein playing unaccompanied Bach (Salzburg, August 1957). Apart from Bach's music, and Milstein's playing, pleasure comes from the fact that Milstein knows how to keep the music moving, and he also doesn't automatically make every repeat. Slowing things down (particularly in the slow movements) spoiled for me the incredible playing of such diverse violinists as Julia Fischer and Bronislaw Gimpel. And when you add making all repeats to slowing down, these works can often drag on for a long time (especially the first Partita). Bravo Nathan for, even now, holding my attention for 60 minutes non-stop.
Finished off my listening with Lise de la Salle playing Bach. The impression of spontaneity and improvisation that she gives is quite remarkable. I really look forward to more recordings from her.